Good governance sets the normative standards of development. It fosters participation, ensures transparency, demands accountability, promotes efficiency, and upholds the rule of law in economic, political and administrative institutions and processes. It is a hallmark of political maturity but also a requisite for growth and poverty reduction, for there are irreducible minimum levels of governance needed for large-scale investment to occur and for social programs to be supported. A cornerstone of good governance is adherence to the rule of law, that is, the impersonal and impartial application of stable and predictable laws, statutes, rules, and regulations, without regard for social status or political considerations. This chapter assesses the quality of governance in the country and identifies key governance challenges that constrain development. It then lays down corresponding strategies to achieve good governance anchored on the rule of law, and provide an enabling environment for national development.
Good Governance and the Rule of Law Assessment and Challenges The country’s recent history has been plagued by questions of legitimacy, accountability, and allegations of grand corruption. The 1986 EDSA revolution established a framework of constitutional democracy and civil rights, but deep social and political divisions have persisted alongside problems of inefficiency and corruption in government. The failure to address governance issues has given rise in recent years to marked political instability, bordering on threats to constitutional government, and a deepening cynicism and mistrust of formal political institutions. Political instability and widespread corruption have also had serious repercussions on the investment climate. The successful and credible transfer of power in 2010 through the prescribed constitutional processes and a renewed public concern for government accountability and transparency are important first steps in restoring the credibility of the nation’s institutions. But they are not enough. Efforts until now have at best created “islands of good governance” 1 in certain sectors, some national agencies, and LGUs.
But these have failed to translate into improvements in the country’s overall state of governance, nor have any significant social impact. These “islands” are easily swamped by high tides of impunity and venality. The overall miserable state of governance in the country was attested by different measures. The country’s percentile rank in the six dimensions of governance in the Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) until 2009 remained mostly within the lower half. The worst performance was in political stability, as the conduct and results of previous national elections were sharply contested amid allegations of corruption. The result was an alienation of the people from their Efforts until now have at best created “islands of good governance” in certain sectors, some national agencies, and some local government units. But these have failed to translate into improvements in the country’s overall state of governance, nor have any significant social impact.